In this interview with Mallaree Blake, PsyD., we'll learn more about everything from Dr. Blake's favorite way to spend a day to her top book recommendations.
Dr. Mallaree Blake, PsyD. provides specialized treatment for pregnancy, perinatal and postpartum health, infertility, dating and relationships, anxiety and depression, sexuality and sexual health, as well as LGBTQ and cultural identity concerns.
Therapists have the great honor of witnessing some awe-inspiring changes and human experiences. What inspires you most about your work as a therapist?
Watching clients begin to witness their inner strength and self-efficacy. I love witnessing the moment when a client starts to realize they are capable, valued, and enough as they are. It’s the moment when a character in a story realizes they had the missing element all along, within themselves.
What is a phrase you say a lot in your work as a therapist?
“Thank you for trusting me”
Having been a client myself in therapy, I understand just how much it takes to get yourself in the room: courage, bravery, vulnerability. I never forget to remember and recognize that for my clients and want to make sure they know I understand all that it took to sit across from me and share about themselves in such raw and honest ways.
What do you feel makes you unique in your role as a therapist?
I’m a person first, therapist second. Demonstrating this, through being vulnerable and authentic myself, helps my clients witness my humanity in our relationship. I think this makes our relationship so much stronger, safer, and more powerful. I also have a deep dedication to understanding and integrating all the unique experiences and identities that a client has into our work, as well as exploring how they intersect with mine. Paying attention to how our past impacts our present and can influence our future also helps to draw out the purpose and intention for therapy, which I use as a pretty good roadmap in my work. I also use humor often, which just helps the relationship feel real.
What input would you give someone who is on the fence about starting therapy??
This is so normal and I think most people can share in that experience. Therapy still has an unfortunate stigma to it that really needs to be challenged. I see therapy as an opportunity to better understand ourselves and find ways to thrive within a world that is often really tough to face day to day. Why not enjoy a space every week that’s just about you and your needs? Therapy is also co-created between clients and therapists and I want clients to know that therapy can be what they want to make it.
How do you make new clients comfortable?
I let clients know that our first time meeting together is also an opportunity for them to interview me. Since the therapeutic relationship is so crucial in therapy, it is important that they are invited to assess whether or not I’m a good fit for them. I’m consistently transparent and ask to collaborate throughout therapy with my clients so that they can ask for what makes them feel comfortable, safe, and willing to trust in me. Making sure my clients know that they are the expert on themselves, not me, also helps to ease the initial discomforts.
What is one of your favorite self-help books, one that you often recommend to your clients?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Both of these books focus on the importance of vulnerability, trust in oneself, and how self-acceptance and self-worth are critical to health and well-being. They have anecdotes that can really hit home.
What does therapy look like with you specifically?
A few words come to mind: relational, cultural, collaborative, bidirectional, and creative. Much of my therapeutic approach focuses on the past relationships one has, the current ones they’re in, the future ones they want, and the relationship they are entering into with me. Understanding early family relationships, moments from childhood, influential memories, and other crucial life experiences help myself and clients create a map of their lives so they can better understand their current struggles or patterns. We work at their pace, always. What I mean by cultural is that each of us has different life experiences and identities that impact the ways in which we see and experience the world. By understanding what these are, and sharing some of mine, therapy is deepened, and often corrective or healing. I also work very collaboratively with my clients and emphasize the reality that I’m also growing and changing along with them. I like to use creative approaches too: art, writing, stories, metaphors, etc.
What is your favorite way to spend a day?
First, I like waking up with enough time to enjoy coffee on my porch and appreciate the silence of my neighborhood. Next, I’d want to go exploring on a new hike with my partner and dogs, followed by a long brunch with a big group of friends on a patio with some sunshine. I like to live the rest of the day in the moment (probably finding other places to eat) and hope to eventually end up dancing somewhere after the sun sets.
What is one of your favorite quotes and why?
“Let me be as a feather, strong with purpose and yet light at heart and able to bend. And though I might become frayed, able to pull myself together again.”
When I ended therapy with a client, she gave me this quote attached to a painting she did. I thought it really got to the heart of how powerful and resilient we are, despite life often making us feel weak, broken, or ragged.
“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’”
This quote speaks to the pressures women face and how we are often asked to do and be so much more in this society. It encompasses strength, adversity, and how systems of privilege and oppression operate. My identity as a woman is so central to the way I interpret and experience the world, which has really fostered my passion in serving and empowering women in my role as a psychologist.
If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what food would that be?
This is so hard. I’d probably have to say tacos because they can be done so many different ways! I lived in Texas for two years and really miss the variety of tacos there since I could basically eat them for every meal. A close second would be ice cream, it never gets old.
What odd, unique or special gift or talent do you have that others might not know about?
First, I’m left-handed and have a thing for collecting books on lefties, learning which important social figures are left-handed, recognizing left-handed things, etc. Second, I worked at Paper Source during graduate school and therefore have a serious knack for wrapping presents and making creative stationery.